Alarm Chain

About the exhibition

The exhibition titled Alarm Chain presented in the space of acb Attachment builds upon data visualization that relies on Albert-László Barabási’s identity, active simultaneously as scientist and artist. Barabási and his research team examined emergencies and disasters that occurred between January 2007 and January 2009, with a specific focus on their communication aspects. The complex diagrams on display in the exhibition space were generated from the mobile phone data of eyewitnesses present on the scene of these events. The primary question of the study was to determine how many times a witness or survivor of a tragic event calls someone on their mobile phone. The diagrams, originally created as graphs (complex networks), were reinterpreted by Barabási as embroidery patterns, converting the previous data visualizations into textile forms. The BarabasiLab exhibition now presents the works related to this project.

There are three textiles and a site-specific installation in the space of acb Attachment. The works reference and examine three real events, the printed press photos and the texts also highlight these, while the LED scrolling text features headlines from newspapers related to the emergencies. Barabási and his team processed the mobile data of a non-fatal bomb explosion in Pamplona, of a riot after a Real Madrid parade, and of a New Year’s Eve, because „mobile phones capture the location and the movement of their users, and their real-time communication which they perform in the deep network of the society. Thus the mobile phones start to function as remote sensors of installed on the site of emergencies.” The researchers classified the data into clusters, which range from the most to the least intensely communicating ones. The graphs show how intensely the cells used their mobile phones in the light of the ongoing event. The points and the polygons signify people and mobile numbers, whereas the lines, according to how dense they are, show how many calls the actors performed between each other. Barabási’s team included New Years’ Eve into their research as a control event, because they were curious to see if the call patterns resemble or differ from each other in the case of tragic emergencies or in the case of exaggerated fun moments.

The graphs created in 2011, a few years after the examined events, started to remind Albert-László Barabási of embroidery patterns. This is how the idea to create autonomous textile pieces from them, with the technical help of Zsófia Szász, occurred to him. The other strong aesthetical feature of the exhibition is the roll-painted wall with the motif of a cluster. Albert-László Barabási found his way back to the medium of roll-painting as a part of his own family history, reviving the times when he often accompanied his roll-painting grandfather as a teenager. This was a special motivation for Barabási to create rolls based on the motifs of his scientific graphs.

Albert-László Barabási’s exhibition entitled Hidden Patterns made its debut at Ludwig Museum, Budapest in 2020, and in ZKM, Karlsruhe in 2021. The most recent stations of this travelling exhibition project were the museums of Miercurea Ciuc and Targu Mures in Romania. He also had a solo exhibition at Postmasters Gallery, New York in 2022. As a scientist, he has achieved multiple breakthroughs in the field of theoretical research of complex networks. He is the head of Center for Complex Network Research of Northeastern University and lecturer at Harvard Medical School. Barabási received numerous prestigious awards for his researches, such as the János Bólyai Award, the Moholy-Nagy Award and the Prima Primissima Award. 


Venue:acb Attachment

Date:Nov 10 – Dec 08, 2023

Opening:Nov 09, 2023, 18:00–21:00

Exhibited works


– photo by Tóth Dávid
– photo by Tóth Dávid
– photo by Tóth Dávid
– photo by Tóth Dávid
– photo by Tóth Dávid